Substantial spread of the Omicron variant has been found around the world and France is no exception. The Omicron variant has become the dominant coronavirus strain in France, where infections are still surging. The omicron variant is continuing to drive a record spike in coronavirus cases.

On January 2nd, 2022, Jean-Michel Blanquer,  the Minister of National Education in France, announced the uplifted COVID protocol through the Le Parisien, when classes were supposed to resume on January 3rd, 2022. Instead of closing the classes, Blanquer introduced the “contact-tracing policy”.

When a positive case appears in a class, classes are shut down for a week and all students and teachers are required to undergo multiple antigens or PCR tests. Parents must also certify in writing that a test has been taken and that the result is negative. Blanquer mentioned that “these multiple tests are spaced a few days apart to ensure that students who were negative on the first day did not become positive later“.

Strict testing and isolation rules have left many students and teachers queuing every day outside pharmacies and labs to be tested. Teachers and parents were also angry and tired of following these sudden and chaotic protocols.

It was also revealed that Blanquer had been travelling abroad in Ibiza while teachers and parents were struggling to get their children to school in accordance with the new rules. All parties were outraged by his actions. Educators went on strike and political parties called for Blanquer’s resignation.

Yannick Jadot, a presidential candidate for the French Green Party, commented that Blanquer’s action was a “contempt” and “irresponsibility” that is unacceptable. Jadot called for his resignation because instead of preparing for the new term with teachers and parents, he was caught on vacation during the peak Covid season.

Yet, On January 18th, 2022, Blanquer declared and said he “regretted the symbolism” of his holiday vacation in Ibiza, but denied breaking any laws and COVID restrictions. He said his presence in Ibiza did not affect his decision-making and ability to carry out his duties as education minister.

To support the educators during difficult times, Blanquer has also pledged to provide school staff with 5 million high-grade FFP2 masks and hired thousands of teachers and other staff to replace those who are forced to quarantine after being infected or coming into contact with an infected person.

Alysha Leung

Alysha is a final year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she moved to Canada to pursue a BA in International Relations with a minor in Geography (Environment and Sustainability). Alysha has a strong interest in global issues, environmental policies and ESG. In the near future, she would like to pursue a Master's degree in Urban Planning with the aim of creating a sustainable and greener world for future generations.

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